Demonstration of a Martian surface power system sodium boiler heat exchanger

Michael Schuller, Cable Kurwitz, Rube Williams, Frederick Best

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Texas A&M University designed, built, and tested a sodium boiler for Los Alamos National Laboratory. The boiler is a candidate subsystem for a 3 kWe Mars surface power reactor. A sodium boiler has been proposed to enhance transfer of thermal energy between the heat pipe cooled reactor core and the Stirling engine heater head. The heat transfer mechanism, and its efficiency, is important to the overall efficiency of the reactor power system. Uncertainty regarding the performance of the sodium heat exchanger, specifically boiling and condensing behavior, particularly in Martian gravity, led LANL to ask the Center for Space Power (CSP) at Texas A&M University to measure the effectiveness of such a device. Data included liquid and vapor sodium temperatures within the boiler, wall temperatures, and calorimetry data. Visualization of the sodium was provided by two quartz windows that allowed experimenters to see the sodium surface and the condensing head section. The boiler was tested to 1540 watts input power and 550 °C sodium pool temperature before braze failures caused experiment termination.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpace Technology and Applications International Forum, STAIF 2008, including co-located conferences
Pages415-422
Number of pages8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008
EventSpace Technology and Applications International Forum: Enabling Space Exploration, STAIF 2008 - Albuquerque, NM, United States
Duration: 10 Feb 200814 Feb 2008

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
Volume969
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616

Other

OtherSpace Technology and Applications International Forum: Enabling Space Exploration, STAIF 2008
CountryUnited States
CityAlbuquerque, NM
Period10/2/0814/2/08

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Keywords

  • Liquid metal
  • Nuclear surface power
  • Sodium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Schuller, M., Kurwitz, C., Williams, R., & Best, F. (2008). Demonstration of a Martian surface power system sodium boiler heat exchanger. In Space Technology and Applications International Forum, STAIF 2008, including co-located conferences (pp. 415-422). (AIP Conference Proceedings; Vol. 969). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.2844996